Kansas Capitol Renovations

(Deb) Welcome back. Frank doesn’t have any more to say so I guess I’ll take over from here. (Frank) This will be like Penn and Teller. (Deb) Yea. Really. Your turn now. (Frank) Anyway, the Dillon House is right across the street from the State Capitol Building and the Capitol is really….we did one of our opens there at Christmas because it was such a beautiful setting. (Deb) Wasn’t that pretty? (Frank) The tree and all of that. And so, anyway, we decided well, we should maybe do something about the Capitol. (Deb) You know the remodel is stupendous and now that the Legislative session is going on, of course a lot of people are coming in and it’s the one time of year where a lot of people do come to the Capitol for business and might not get there any other time. But we strongly encourage you to see it. It is spectacular. And I was showing somebody around the other day and pointing out so much that was done on the Capitol restoration was restoring things that had been covered up. It was really making sure it was structurally sound. There was a lot of work that went into it that needed to be done. You know, it’s a magnificent building. (Frank) Well, the public entrance when you come into the Visitor’s Center, it’s mind boggling. Cause it used to be the basement and now they’ve completely redone it. There’s a lot of stone. I mean, it’s…and there’s a lot of historical pictures on the wall. (Deb) It was not just a basement, it was like a dungeon. It was horrible, it was horrible. There were places you’d go back in there…like I remember Secretary of State used to store stuff down there, and it was horrible. And it is wonderful now. It is all useable space, so not just decorative, there’s some very worthwhile things in addition to being beautiful. (Frank) And of course, you can go up, if you’re not afraid of heights, you can go up the dome and of course, it’s March with the wind, so I don’t know. (Deb) I’m not doing that. (Frank) Out there…what is it 300 or some feet up there? (Deb) We’ll find out. Let’s take a look. Do you remember the last time you were in the statehouse? High school? Kansas Day ten years ago? During the remodel? Maybe before the remodel? It’s time to go back. The multi-phase Kansas Statehouse restoration took 13 years and 300 million dollars. It restored the first through fifth floors, rehabbed and expanded the basement, restored exterior masonry, the copper roof and dome. Treanor Architects carefully designed the phasing of the project to ensure that both the capitol and legislative chambers were open throughout construction. Work on the project included upgrading utilities and infrastructure, building a 550-car parking garage, and a new visitor’s center with a lass room and auditorium. The wings, including the House and Senate Chambers, were restored to their former glory. This preservation and restoration project successfully restored historic materials; maximized existing spaces by converting underutilized areas, such as the basement, into usable spaces; created new spaces, such as offices, mechanical vaults and parking in non-obtrusive sub-grade additions; and improved the building’s function and safety through the use of new building systems and computer technology. As former Kansas senator Dick Bond commented when the project was in its early stages, “This is the people‚Äôs house.” It is a tribute to the trials and sacrifices of generations who carved a state from the violence of Bleeding Kansas and sustained it through the trials to follow. It is unthinkable that the names of abolitionists were painted over in the House Chamber, that art was allowed to fade or covered up altogether. Of course, the most memorable image is that iconic John Steuart Curry mural of John Brown. The Steuart murals were cleaned and cared for and will inspire generations of school children for years to come. It is the most iconic and recognizable of Kansas images. The People’s House was abused and neglected far too long. May she weather the next century more grandly.

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